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Householders' Insurance
Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 03:16
Don’t stay in the dark

You know how it goes, just when you have your evening plans all laid out – dinner with friends, an intimate movie with your spouse after the kids have gone to sleep, finally catching up on your reading – the room turns dark. We can all relate to the frustration of not being able to do the things that matter to us. Load shedding not only impacts our ability to do what we like; it can also damage our electronic equipment, resulting in unfortunate insurance claims.

Because of load shedding, consumers are at a higher risk and may suffer damage to equipment brought on by power surges or loss of goods because of theft or burglary during blackouts. Therefore, consumers need to be proactive and speak to their broker or insurer to ensure they are adequately covered for the load shedding risks affecting them.
Coenraad De Jager, Executive for Personal Lines at Mutual & Federal, notes that consumers should never assume they are adequately covered. Indeed, their basic insurance might not include specific risks related to load shedding. “We are finding that consumers are generally unaware of what their cover includes or excludes,” he says. “In some instances, additional cover may be required. In the case of load shedding, for example, the battery of the alarm system plays a major role. Policyholders should ensure their alarm system’s batteries are tested regularly so that maximum protection is provided. Also, load shedding can dramatically reduce the lifespan of an alarm battery and, should it be older than one year, consumers should make the necessary arrangements either to replace or at least have the battery checked.”
When consumers are underinsured for certain load shedding risks and have not taken the necessary safety precautions, it could lead to further frustration when an insurance company is unable to settle a claim.
“When the load shedding period ends and electricity has returned, in most cases a power surge occurs due to a boost in the electrical charge in the power lines,” he explains, “increasing the current flow of electricity to the wall outlet. As a result, appliances and other electronic devices in households might short-circuit or malfunction. It’s therefore crucial for consumers to check the extent of their cover in respect of power surge incidents to ensure that they are adequately covered,” adds De Jager.
He advises that there are simple steps to take to handle to load shedding risks. “Simple steps such as unplugging appliances not in use to minimise the chances of damage; installing surge protectors to prevent power surge damage; keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep frozen food safe from spoilage; regularly testing your alarm system; ensuring that electric fencing and gates are still work during a blackout, or requesting more regular patrols and checks from your security company. All these will go a long way to ensuring minimum exposure to load shedding risks,” he says.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:28.3 1st March, 2015
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